Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Uncomfortable Split

I am not sure whether the Volvo commercial with Jean-ClaudeVan Damme performing a truly “epic” split led to more sales of trucks. What I do know is that in addition to going viral, the commercial got me thinking, and for me, the split has become a metaphor.

It is either a sign of my nuanced views and/or an indication of my poor writing skills that as I have worked to try to create a middle ground between the worlds of Right-wing Modern Orthodoxy and Open Orthodoxy, it has been assumed by some that I am a musmach of YCT, a believer in the need for the ordination of women, a supporter of partnership minyanim, a puppet to the “right-wing” roshei yeshiva of YU, a charedi and beholden to Rabbis Gil Student or Ysoscher Katz. In fact, I am none of the above. I am however, a believer in serious learning opportunities for women, making women as comfortable as possible in shul within the limits of halacha, that moderation is not a dirty word, that halacha has rules, and that Rabbis Katz and Student, are acting l'sheim shamayim and have contributed to the world of Torah. Although I am more comfortable within the world of YU, and lean towards halachic conservativism, I am sympathetic to some of the motivations behind psak that has come from musmachim of and teachers at YCT. I have been spiritually and intellectually nurtured by many of the Roshei Yeshiva at YU, even as I do not fully identify with most of them hashkafically.

I suppose that it is fitting that I write these words on Yom Yerushalayim, living in a community where most shuls said tachanun this morning. More and more, I find myself most sympathetic to Israeli institutions where serious Torah scholarship, combines with moderation and a willingness to make slow but steady progress in advancing thoughtful progressive change. Yeshivat Har Etzion's Roshei Yeshiva and rabbeim serve as models of what I aspire to in Torah. At Gush, as the yeshiva is known, there is a commitment to openness to the challenging questions on Torah and halacha, within a clear spirit of yirat shamayim. Beit Hillel acts to promote women's learning and leadership positions, tolerance and a values based approach to psak and the klal.

I find myself wondering what it is about Israel that allows for these institutions to achieve a balance that American institutions struggle to achieve. Looking for the chance to, once again teach Torah, I wonder if there is an institution which would be comfortable with my views. Being that aliyah is most likely at least a few years off, I remain stuck in this uncomfortable split, hoping that the supports on which I am precariously balanced, don't move further apart.

1 comment:

  1. >I find myself wondering what it is about Israel that allows for these institutions to achieve a balance that American institutions struggle to achieve.

    Because as some people keep telling me, Israel is what Judaism is SUPPOSED to be. While in America we are too busy dealing with preservation, they are busy making Judaism "live" as it was always supposed to be. Judaism is supposed to be about nationhood, not a religion.